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BuddyPress and WPMU Upgrade for Macaulay

Inspired by Boone’s generous help and guidance in describing how the BuddyPress install here at the Commons went from 1.0 to 1.1, I wanted to describe how I took the Macaulay install from 1.0 to 1.3.  There were some hiccups and difficulties, and maybe others can benefit from reading the steps.

Since I had tried and failed once before in going from 1.0 to 1.1, and was only saved by a careful backup which I could restore, I wanted to be especially careful with backing up this time.

More than that, I took that backup and installed it locally and got it up and running locally (using MAMP), and did the whole process there, first, on that local version.  This is really a good practice, and I wish I had the patience to do it all the time.  I recommend it.  I have a personal install of WPMU and BP on another server that I often use for testing, but that’s not the same as testing on an exact duplicate of the production system.  Having done that made the whole process much less stressful.

Here’s a quick summary of the steps I took, with details below.

  1. BACKUP
  2. Deactivate BuddyPress-related plugins
  3. Deactivate BuddyPress
  4. Switch my main blog to the default WordPress theme
  5. Overwrite the BuddyPress folder in wp-content/plugins with the new (downloaded) BuddyPress (I used FTP rather than the “automatic” process)
  6. Upload a new theme (bp-fun, but it could be any BuddyPress-enabled theme) to wp-content/themes
  7. Rename wp-content/bp-themes (to elderlybp-themes, or anything like that)
  8. Move bp-sn-parent and bp-default out of wp-content/plugins/buddypress and into wp-content/themes
  9. Move bp-global-adminbar-css.php to wp-content/mu-plugins (taking it out of the bp-fun folder)
  10. Reactivate BuddyPress
  11. Switch main blog to BP-Fun as its theme

That was about it!  Everything seems to have worked smoothly (relatively) and it also gave me the opportunity (the requirement, really) to change the theme on my main blog (which was a bit overdue–that theme was looking tired and dated).  The only remaining problem is that for groups that existed before the upgrade, it’s impossible to create new forum posts.  That could be serious in some installs, and I would like to track it down and fix it.  But I’ve been unable to, and in our install it’s not so important because groups and group forums aren’t really in frequent use yet.  I can just create new groups and for new groups, the forums work fine.  Still hunting down a few other bugs, as I go along.

Now some descriptions and details–no need to read further unless you’re really interested.

  1. BACKUP–Can’t overemphasize this.  DO IT.  Back up your files, but most definitely most importantly backup your mysql database.  If your install is small (mine is not) you can use phpmyadmin.  But a much better solution is Sequel Pro (if you’re on a mac).  I’ve been using it for a while now and love it.  Terrific (free) program.
  2. Deactivate BuddyPress-related plugins.  If you’ve got any.  I had a few.
  3. Deactivate BuddyPress.  This is one of the mistakes (I think) I made when I first tried this upgrade.  If you try the upgrade with BuddyPress active, if you don’t deactivate it first, you’re in trouble.
  4. Switch my main blog to the default theme.  This was also key, I think, and it’s not very well documented.  Maybe a bit dependent on the way I was doing things.  In my install, my main blog (http://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios) was using a regular old WordPress theme (Freshy) that I had customized.  But that theme was not at all compatible with BuddyPress, so my BuddyPress pages (/members, /groups, and so on) were just using BuddyPress Default theme, lightly customized.  None of the methods I saw for dealing with this situation worked for me.  I either got white screens of death or just badly mangled css that made the pages impossible to read or see after the upgrade.  Switching the main blog to the default WordPress theme before doing the upgrade seems to have dealt with all that.
  5. Overwrite the BuddyPress folder in wp-content/plugins with the new (downloaded) BuddyPress (I used FTP rather than the “automatic” process).  FTP is always safer than the automatic process, I’ve found.  This was easy.
  6. Upload a new theme (bp-fun, but it could be any BuddyPress-enabled theme) to wp-content/themes .  This was also important–so I could have something to switch my main blog to, and then customize that.
  7. Rename wp-content/bp-themes (to elderlybp-themes, or anything like that).  Have to do this so BuddyPress will not look there for the old theme scheme.  Can delete it entirely, but seemed safer to just rename it until I was sure I wasn’t going to need to revert to it.
  8. Move bp-sn-parent and bp-default out of wp-content/plugins/buddypress and into wp-content/themes.  As per instructions.
  9. Move bp-global-adminbar-css.php to wp-content/mu-plugins (taking it out of the bp-fun folder).  I don’t know if this was entirely crucial.  But it wasn’t there (in mu-plugins) before, and it did seem like some problems (mainly with that admin-bar) were solved by doing this.
  10. Reactivate BuddyPress. (and say a prayer)
  11. Switch main blog to BP-Fun as its theme.  And then make sure that that theme (and the other buddypress themes) are not available to other users–just for the main blog.  And then work on customizing that BP-Fun theme a bit (I remove the signup link, I remove “blog” from the nav menu, and a few other things.  The theme itself has a good theme options function, so you can do a lot of customizing with that.  Beyond that you’ll need to edit the theme files).

I had been dreading this for a while, but with good backups and a good test environment, it really worked OK.  A few weird moments (at one point uploading a group avatar caused a WSOD, but logging out and logging back in–the dashboard was not white-screening–took care of that.  Don’t know why, and I haven’t been able to recreate the problem.  Weird.)

(Oh, and WPMU, Too)

While I was at it, I decided to go ahead and do the upgrade from WPMU 2.8.6 to WPMU 2.9.1 (feeling daring).  That had a scary moment when the whole install went WSOD, but that was my own fault–because of impatience, in uploading the new files, I tried to have several FTP processes going at once, and one of them must have been corrupted or interrupted.  Reuploading took care of the problem right away.

2.9.1, the last WPMU upgrade before the switch to the integrated WP and WPMU with WP 3.0 (!!!!!!), is a big improvement and well-worth the upgrade.  I would say do not wait for the integration (Commons staff, what do you think?).  Even if the integration is coming soon (or soonish), that promises to be a bigger and scarier upgrade, and many of us might wait a while even after it’s available.

But 2.9.1 offers something very very good, that my students have been asking for and that I’ve wanted myself, and it’s worth the upgrade just for that.  In 2.9.1, there is now image editing (basic–but it’s got cropping, resizing and rotating) built in to the media upload feature.  It works very well, it’s smooth and nicely designed, and a great feature that has been missing for a long time.

I did have one problem with the 2.9.1 upgrade, and it’s not solved yet, and it’s bothering me.  The upgrade seems to have broken the excellent Userthemes plugin.  That’s very bad, because although I had only a few blogs (class blogs and individuals and some staff sites) using it, those that did use it needed it.  I’m hoping somebody (maybe me, but probably not) will find a fix soon, or I’ll have to find an alternative.  Fingers crossed on that.


2 Comments

  1. Hey, Rod, great advice! That workaround is OK for me, too. It’s not ideal, as you say, because it allows all the installed themes to be copied (and that’s well over 100 in my install), but with a little cautious user supervision it will at least solve the immediate problem.

    You’re brilliant to come up with that! (and maybe that fix will help lead someone else to the real core of the problem).

  2. Hi — I thought our userthemes were broken also after we upgraded. It all seemed to work except the “copy” menu disappeared. I made MAX userthemes per blog > than the total number of installed themes and it seems to work again. I hope to find a better solution soon, but that seemed to do the trick for us.

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